A petition was presented to CSU Channel Islands by local Chumash leaders that the dolphin be the University's official mascot. The sacred story of why the Chumash cherish the dolphin is contained in "The Rainbow Bridge" legend. Simultaneously, the founding student leadership of CSUN-CI petitioned to have the dolphin as CSU Channel Islands' mascot. The request was warmly received by the students, faculty, and staff.
"The Rainbow Bridge" A Chumash Legend
The first Chumash people were created on Santa Cruz Island. They were made from seeds of a magic plant by the Earth Goddess, whose name was Hutash. Hutash was married to the Sky Snake (the Milky Way). He could make lightning bolts with his tongue. One day, he decided to make a gift to the Chumash people. He sent down a bolt of lightning, and this started a fire. After this, people kept fires burning so that they could keep warm, and so that they could cook their food.
In those days, the condor was a white bird. But the condor was very curious about the fire he saw burning in the Chumash village. He wanted to find out what it was. So he flew very low over the fire to get a better look. But he flew too close; he got his feathers scorched and they turned black. So now the condor is a black bird, with just a little white left under the wings where they didn't get burned.
After Sky Snake gave them fire, the Chumash people lived more comfortably. More people were born each year, and their villages got bigger and bigger. Santa Cruz Island was getting crowded. And the noise the people made was starting to annoy Hutash. It kept her awake at night. So, finally, she decided that some of the Chumash would have to move off the island. They would have to go to the mainland, which was less populated. But how were the people going to get across the water to the mainland. Finally, Hutash had the idea of making a bridge out of a rainbow. She made a very long, very high rainbow, which stretched from the tallest peak on Santa Cruz Island all the way to the tall mountains near Carpinteria.
Hutash told the people to go across the Rainbow Bridge and fill the whole world with people. So the Chumash people started to go across the bridge. Some of them got across safely, but some of them made the mistake of looking down. It was a long way down to the water, and the fog was swirling around. They got so dizzy that some of them fell off the Rainbow Bridge, down, down, through the fog, into the ocean. Hutash felt very badly about this, because she had told them to cross the bridge. She didn't want them to drown. Instead, she turned them into dolphins. So the Chumash have always said that dolphins were their brothers and sisters.